Sometime in the near future, perhaps even in the Syracuse basketball team's next game, Tyler Lydon is going to make a play that gets you out of your seat. Whether it's blocking back-to-back attempts at the rim or throwing down a dunk in transition, the third piece of Jim Boeheim's freshman class is going to make his name known soon enough.
Lydon arrived on Syracuse's campus firmly under the radar. He was the ranked 76th in ESPN's Top 100 freshmen coming into this season, but he quickly started showing he was under-ranked. When Boeheim's Army was practicing in Syracuse for The Basketball Tournament this summer, the Orange alums were blown away by Lydon.
Said Terrence Roberts to Chris Carlson of Syracuse.com, "He is a gem. He can shoot the ball from the college 3. He can shoot the mid-range like clockwork. He can jump like I did as a freshman, but with more control."
Then, ESPN took notice. As Mike Waters of Syracuse.com points out, Lydon made a list from ESPN's Adam Finkelstein of five freshmen who will outplay their recruiting rank.
That's all well and good, but none of it really matters unless you can produce in a game setting. Even though it was only one exhibition game against LeMoyne, Lydon performed. He was relentless on the offensive glass, grabbing five offensive boards in his 22 minutes.
Lydon only finished with six points, but he made all four of his free throws and was active in transition. There were a few times when he had his man beat on the way to the rim and was calling for a lob, but his teammates didn't find him. Once they develop more on-court chemistry, those plays can turn into dunks for Lydon.
And on defense, Lydon looked like he was plenty comfortable in the 2-3 zone. He blocked three shots, and there were a few times where you could hear him calling out hoe opponents where moving through the zone. I remember one specific time where you could hear him yell "Baseline! Baseline!" so his teammates could watch for a potential cutter along the baseline going up for a lob. As we know, Syracuse can be vulnerable to those plays every now and then.
It's one thing to have the talent. But Lydon also has the right attitude and work ethic to turn himself into a star. Check out this post from his Twitter account, which shows him shooting in an empty gym and hitting seven three-pointers in a row.
Draft dreams. pic.twitter.com/PQ1fttwc21— Tyler Lydon (@Tyler_Lydon14) September 6, 2015
If he can hit threes like that in a game setting, he will open up even more for the Orange on offense.
But perhaps Lydon's greatest attribute is something that you can't measure on the court. Look at what he told Donna Ditota of Syracuse.com after Monday's win:
"I just try to do whatever I can. I just try to do all the little stuff. That's some of the best parts of the game. It's a lot of fun for me just diving on loose balls or getting rebounds. I [sic] might be kind of weird to say, but I almost enjoy getting hit sometimes. It keeps me motivated, keeps me wanting to get the ball. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to help this team."
After reading that, can't you see this guy diving all over the floor for loose balls, crashing the glass with everything he has and giving up his body to keep a ball in play? Those are the plays that never show up in the stat sheet, but sometimes they can make the difference for a team.
The only thing working against Lydon right now is his size. He needs to put on some more muscle, lest he get pushed around by some of the bigger bodies the Orange will face this season. But what he lacks in strength he will make up for with tenacity and hustle.
Lydon may not light up the stat sheet the way Mike Gbinije or Malachi Richardson can. But the way he plays will have a major impact on the Orange's success this year. And if he is as spry as Roberts and Co. from Boeheim's Army say he is he just might end up in the SportsCenter Top 10 a couple times as well.